What Is the Difference between Ephedrine and Pseudoephedrine?

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  • Written By: Kathleen Howard
  • Edited By: Kaci Lane Hindman
  • Last Modified Date: 20 May 2019
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Ephedrine and pseudoephedrine are phenethylamine derivatives identical in their molecular formula but slightly different in their arrangement of molecules. Both are considered sympathomimetic drugs, which means that they affect the sympathetic nervous system. While these drugs are very similar, even belonging to the same amphetamine chemical classes, there are distinct differences between them. Ephedrine and pseudoephedrine differ in their appearance, their uses, and the way they affect the body.

While both of these substances are derived from the Ephedra sinica plant, ephedrine and pseudoephedrine are not identical in appearance. Once extracted from the Ephedra plant, ephedrine looks like a wax or grainy powder that is white or clear in color. Pseudoephedrine is a fine, white powder that turns yellow when exposed to the air for long periods of time.

The uses of ephedrine and pseudoephedrine also differ. In medicine, ephedrine is most commonly used as a nasal decongestant and a bronchodilator. Less commonly, ephedrine is used to dilate the pupils, control urinary incontinence, and treat anesthesia-related hypotension. Ephedrine has also been used for its ability to stimulate the nervous system and cause weight loss. While the use of ephedrine as a weight loss supplement has been banned in many different countries, it was commonly used for that purpose in previous years.


Pseudoephedrine is primarily used as a nasal and sinus decongestant. This drug is commonly included in medications for allergies, hay fever and common colds. It can also be combined with other medications to treat sinusitis, croup and more conditions.

In addition to their primary uses, ephedrine and pseudoephedrine also differ in the way they affect the body. Ephedrine is a more effective stimulant than pseudoephedrine. When consumed, this drug will increase energy, suppress appetite, and increase heart rate. In some individuals, these effects can be dangerous. Misuse can result in hypertension, vertigo, nausea, headache, rapid heart rate and other health problems.

Though ephedrine might be more stimulating, pseudoephedrine is commonly regarded as a more effective decongestant. For this reason, pseudoephedrine is more frequently included in cold, sinus and allergy medications. Unlike ephedrine, pseudoephedrine is also less likely to cause serious changes in heart rate, euphoria and other negative side effects. While pseudoephedrine can cause negative effects, these side effects are typically less severe than those caused by ephedrine. It is, however, still important to exercise caution and use both of these drugs only as directed.


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Post 3

Ephedrine is way stronger than pseudoephedrine. I think it takes about twice as much as pseudoephedrine to get the same effects of ephedrine.

I've used both in the past, pseudoephedrine as a nasal decongestant and ephedrine as a cold medication. The pseudoephedrine hardly did anything in the recommended dose whereas the ephedrine totally hit me. The side effects of ephedrine were more though.

Post 2

@ZipLine-- Yes, it's a bad idea to use pseudoephedrine as a stimulant. Because it doesn't really stimulate. It will clear up your nasal passages and in higher doses, it will give you anxiety and insomnia. But it won't give you more energy or concentration. So it's not like ephedrine.

If you want to use something for energy, ephedrine is the better choice. But be careful because high doses will cause serious side effects like high blood pressure and high blood sugar.

Post 1

So is it a bad idea to use pseudoephedrine to increase energy and as a weight loss aid? Will it not work?

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